Psychology in California: Learn About Becoming a Psychologist in CA

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California psychologist salaries rank second among U.S. states, and the Golden State also boasts a strong job market. According to Projections Central, California may see an 8.6% increase in employment opportunities for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists from 2020-2030.

The University of California, Davis, hosts a top neuroscience research center, and clinical facilities in Oakland and San Diego address threats to mental health, including substance abuse, homelessness, and PTSD among veterans.

Psychologist Salaries in California
Job Title Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10%
Clinical and counseling psychologists $61,770 $126,470 $205,460
School psychologists $48,760 $100,900 $133,160
Industrial-organizational psychologists $79,380 $117,980 $168,550
Psychologists, all other $52,520 $116,490 $165,060

Source: BLS

Online Programs in Psychology

Psychologist Licensing in California

The state's Board of Psychology oversees psychologist licensing in California. Licensure requirements are comparable to those of other states, and qualifying psychologists already licensed in another state can practice in California on a limited basis if they have submitted an application. Out-of-state applicants must also provide California Psychology Law and Ethics Examination (CPLEE) scores and take coursework in California cultures and suicide risk assessment and intervention.

Psychologists must renew their license every two years. During this time, psychologists should complete 36 hours of continuing education (CE), including nine hours of live or interactive webinar instruction. CE courses must be provided by organizations approved by the American Psychological Association, California Psychological Association, Association of Black Psychologists, or California Medical Association/Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education.

License Requirements

  • Doctorate in psychology from a regionally accredited school
  • Specialization in clinical, counseling, school, consulting, forensic, industrial, or organizational psychology or in education with a psychology specialization
  • 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience, including 1,500 post-doctoral hours
  • Pre-licensure coursework in human sexuality; alcohol/chemical dependency and treatment; child abuse assessment and reporting; spousal or partner abuse assessment, detection, and intervention strategies; aging and long-term care; and suicide risk assessment and intervention
  • Passing scores on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) and the CPLEE
  • Background check
  • Application, testing, and licensing fees

Demand for Psychology in California

California faces both high demand for mental healthcare services and a statewide shortage of providers.

The Department of Health and Human Services designates Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), including those within mental health care, to identify areas and populations with a shortage of providers. California has 578 mental healthcare HPSAs and only 23% of the number of providers needed.

According to CalMatters, state residents continue to be challenged by the effects of the pandemic, inflation, record-breaking heat, wildfires, and gun violence. A University of California, San Francisco, report projects a 40% shortage of psychologists and therapists by 2028.

To ease the growing crisis, California's governor has championed mental health initiatives, including transforming the children's mental health system and initiating a proposal to compel those with serious mental health issues into care and housing. The current state budget allocates $360 million over the next three years to recruit high school students into college behavioral health programs and fund student loan repayment programs.

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